Reviewing my own house – wood floors.

Today I’m continuing on with our series of reviewing my own kitchen.
Last week I reviewed my counter tops and cabinets.
Today we’re talking wood floors in the kitchen and dining.

Our living room, dining and kitchen are all in one big great room. There’s no separation of any designated space. To keep things seamless we ran hardwood flooring throughout the entire great room. We went with oak and had it stained Jacobean (you can read more about the installation and staining process here).


I knew that hardwood in the kitchen would be tricky. I considered tile for a brief second but I was afraid it would break up the flow of the spaces to have different flooring and I’m not a huge fan of tile in the kitchen because of grout lines! There really is no way to keep grout clean. Even if you seal the grout you still see discoloration in the high traffic areas or if you spill.

The thing that has been most difficult is how dirty the wood looks most of the time.


Because they are stained dark they show EVERYTHING! I was hoping going with a matte finish would make them look not so glossy and not show mess as much…no such luck. Even after I mop, they look dirty and hazy-gray not one day later. They are incredibly difficult to keep clean. The other frustrating thing is that my boys are constantly dropping utensils, plates, etc on the floors which causes them to chip and dent easily. Even foot prints show up.


I came across this formula called Rejuvenate at Home Depot a few years back which is supposed to restore your floors like new. You’re only supposed to use it every few months. I put the family to bed then apply it and go to bed. In the morning it’s dry and ready to walk on.


While it doesn’t take every scratch out it does a darn good job breathing new life in to them. I would highly recommend it.

Our fridge leaked water once and water sat on the hardwood all night causing them to raise and buckle. I called a hardwood guy in a week later to give me a bid to have them repaired.
When he first walked in he said, “Your floors are…what…about 10 years old?”
Me: “Ahem…2 years old thank you very much.”

Considering his reaction we’ve apparently beat the heck out of our floors…even though we have a no shoe policy they still appear very much “lived in”… as I prefer to call it.
He recommended I leave the buckled floor for a month to see if they would self repair after they’ve been given a good long while to dry out…to my surprise, they did.

The hardwood has been very high maintenance in the kitchen but in order to keep the spaces consistent I would probably do it again. Grout lines still scare me in a kitchen but I might consider doing a faux wood tile similar to the one we used in our basement. I might also consider using a much lighter wood that doesn’t show every little speck of dust and probably go with something that has texture to hide our boo-boo’s. I recently spotted a wood floor that I can’t stop thinking about on Full House that might be a lighter, better option.

What kind of flooring do you have in your kitchen? What have you liked/not liked about it?


  1. I’ve been surprised both by this review and your cabinet review. Are your cabinets enameled or just painted with latex paint? I have white enameled cabinets and only wipe them down every few months or so… unless a spill happens and obviously I wipe that down right away. In my old house our cabinets were just painted over with regular paint and everything seemed to stick to them, it was really annoying.

    We have wood floors in our kitchen and I absolutely LOVE them. They are also almost 2 years old. I sweep every day and wipe up any little food spills or whatever right away. Then I use a steam mop on my floors once per week. It’s never streaky, hazy, etc. But we didn’t go with a matte finish, maybe that’s the difference? Could you put a new finish on top? Or use just water and steam instead of whatever cleaner you are using? I never notice footprints, we haven’t really gotten any dents, just a few scuffs which were easily wiped away. And my kids (and I) have dropped a lot of stuff, trust me! My finish is also a dark “American Walnut”, and my only complaint is how every crumb shows. I have a broom and pan with a tall handle that stands upright and sweep the area the kids were eating in after almost every meal, to combat this problem. It takes two minutes, so still not a big deal.

  2. We haven’t installed them yet but we picked out Driftwood Oak wood laminate flooring for our family room that also flows into the kitchen and a half bath. We tested about 90 different laminate samples and this one was the clear winner. It’s very scratch resistant. We used the bottom of our kitchen stools and dug into them as hard as possible, plus we took a car key to it. Then I fully submerged 2 sample pieces in water for 48 hours. They still lock together and only slightly swell. After leaving them out to dry they went right back to their original size. They are hand scraped so they have a texture that helps to hide dirt and wear. We installed it in our son’s bedroom to test installation and while I’m sure there will be headaches and frustration, it’s very do-able. We found this flooring at Lowes. It’s extremely inexpensive and has a great warranty.

  3. julie g. says:

    We had our hardwood floors refinished 2 years ago and chose Minwax Ebony. We also chose a matte finish sealer because so many folks online said the glossy sealers showed much more. I agree that darker definitely shows the everyday wear and tear from the kids and pets. I am quite sure that the only thing that saves our floors is that I have area rugs and runners in every room, including the kitchen, which have worked out well. We just rent the carpet cleaner from the gorcery store twice a year. I also saw your earlier review about the Rejuvenate product and am looking forward to trying it.

    Like you, while I realize we have a family, I still wanted to acheive a certain cohesive look in our home and I’m glad we went the route we did. When we bought our home the hardwoods were in the rooms but there was gray slate tile in all of the connecting hallways and the house felt very choppy. Once all the floors were the same, the house instantly felt larger.

    However, we are planning a great room down the road, and after using the hardwood tiles in our new foyer I am considering going that route for the great room to avoid the need for rugs.

  4. I like that the repair guy recommended waiting before repairing. Didn’t know about that!

    This is timely. My kitchen/dining/living are in one big room. Right now there is laminate in my kitchen (a cheapo one that is not staying) and carpet in the other areas. Yes, carpet in the dining area with five kids under 12. I am thinking wood over laminate, but I would love the solid wood (not engineered) that is wide planked and it will cost me a boatload so I haven’t sprang for it yet. Am loving your reviews! We had top of the line laminate in our last house, though not in the kitchen, and I loved it!

  5. Your post totally made me smile – we renovated our kitchen last year (100% by ourselves because we’re crazy like that! :-)) and definitely have a love-hate relationship with our dark wood floors. We had heavy-duty light-finish wood floors before that held up much better to water and kids, but I hated the color. We went with engineered hardwoord floors and they are absolutely beautiful, but definitely show every crumb and bit of dirt. That part doesn’t drive me too crazy as I knew that coming in and it just makes me be more diligent about keeping them clean! I totally didn’t expect the denting and scratching though! My kids have gotten pretty good about playing on the carpet, but it seems like every time we have a play date or family over, someone drops a hot wheel car (or some other metal object) and there is a new little dent in its place. Luckily we chose a hand scraped finish for that exact reason so the imperfections tend to blend in unless you’re looking for them. Also, my husband worked at a furniture company for years, so he always has furniture markers and crayons on hand – these work beautifully on the wood floors (we also use them for dings on our furniture) and once he fills them in, you’d never know they were there! Water has also been an issue. About a month after we installed our floors, we noticed that the finish was almost “wrinkling” near our dishwasher and fridge (under the water dispenser). Its not noticeable enough to make us replace it, but we’ve definitely become better about wiping up the floors when we do dishes and have been looking for just the right kitchen rugs for the space.

    We also painted our kitchen cabinets white, but honestly haven’t had a problem with the finish at all. (And that’s with four little sets of grubby kid hands! haha!) We chose an acrylic enamel from Kelley Moore and it cleans like a dream! We didn’t use it on other areas of our homes that we built (bookcases, coat rack, etc) and can absolutely see the difference. I’m not sure what paint you used this time but maybe it’s something to look into? I just wipe them down about once a week (or more often if there are spills) and a deeper clean maybe once a month. We also did black concrete countertops which I’m loving way more than I anticipated! Maybe one of these days I’ll update my family blog and post pictures! haha :-)

    Thanks so much for the honest review of your kitchen! I’m excited to read more.

  6. If it makes you feel any better I have tile and it also shows every darn footprint and I still have to deal with yucky grout. So the tile has not been much better here. A steam mop has been one of my best purchases though, my floor is so much cleaner with it. I tried quite a few, the oreck one has been my favorite.

    • That DOES make me feel better. I think the only way to keep your floors clean is to have someone follow you around with a mop or hover (fly) over your floors never touching down. :)

  7. Are your floors polyurethane finish? So-called hardwood floor cleaners (especially oil soaps or mop-n-glo types, as well as wet-jets) can leave a waxy build up on them that makes them hazy and then the build-up can look very scratched and blotchy, plus they look grimy and hazy all the time. It’s really counter intuitive, but hardwoods shouldn’t be mopped – use a dust mop only, vacuum, spot clean, and very occasionally (like every three or six months) a very, very wrung out damp mopping of plain water. We have had dark waxed hardwoods and poly’d hardwoods and those instructions worked like a charm – we got them from a very high-end hardwood company! You can have your floors professionally cleaned by a hardwood company (they use some kind of ammonia mix to remove the residue, you could google it) then you can maintain them after that with the no-water approach. Our new house has prefinished hardwoods downstairs and our new housekeeper was obsessed with mopping them with Murphy’s Oil Soap – I finally had to insist she stop because they looked worse and worse every time she cleaned them. Hope that helps a little with the cleaning aspect!

  8. We have pergo wood flooring throughout our house and kitchen and love it! We have a 1 year old, so it definitely is starting to get some tough love on it, but it holds up great, is easy to clean, and is smooth. Every Saturday we use our shark steam cleaner/mop on it and it does a great job. I think Pergo wood is also pretty cheap. The only problem we have had with it, was when we were moving in a new refrigerator, some of the pieces slid under the weight of it so some are pushed up a little bit. But that’s it! :)

  9. StudioOne says:

    I have ultra dark hardwood floors – yes, they show every speck of dirt or dust, but I would rather have that and just do a quick clean every day and have the knowledge that they are clean. My floors have a very high shine, but I didn’t accomplish this from the finish on the floors (I am convinced that the finish – matte or high gloss – wears off as the workmen leave the house…) – I accomplished this because I use floor wax – yes – floor wax – on them (clear floor wax, such as “Pledge” brand floor wax that you would use on tile floors). The initial application required MULTIPLE applications (think 8 or 9 applications) in order to build a complete ‘layer’ between the wood floor and all of the feet that go running across the floor. I have three humans and two dogs (non-shedding variety) running across these floors – and they have been doing it now for 20 years. This is effectively like having 7 people crossing the floors on a daily basis (and consider that dogs have toenails that tend to dig into the floor too…). Twice a year I reinforce the floors with additional layers of wax to ensure that they are always protected. I clean them with a mixture of white vinegar and water. The cleaning application is never ‘wet’ but instead it is damp-wet.

    Wood floors, like any work of beauty, require due attention. If you are willing to bring your floors back to a state of ‘near newness’ by making any necessary repairs and then doing the applications of the layers of wax, you will have protected floors. Dropped items and spills may dig into the wax, but not into the actual wood. The ‘lifetime’ of wood floors are generally 10 years. My floors are over 20 years old and still look as if they were just installed…

  10. Elisabeth Bova says:

    Those floors on Full House look reclaimed. They are pretty great. I am assuming that installing something reclaimed that already has hundreds of years of dents, wear, and life in them is MORE expensive than something brand new and perfect. I wish that the new “hand scraped” wood floors looked more uneven and imperfect. Are they really “hand scraped”? Or are they machine scraped to look hand scraped? I love the idea of them though. I am all for letting life happen….the more dents, scrapes and wear, the better. It’s going to happen anyway, so let’s embrace it. But it has to be the right floor to begin with. Reclaimed, I guess. Darn. Lottery ticket anyone?

    • I totally agree with you. We had hand scraped in our AZ home and as much as it was supposed to look “old world-ish” is sure did look “new-world-ish” with the possible help of a machine. :)

  11. I just think kitchens are HARD! We put slate tile with charcoal grout in our first house and LOVED it for the six years we were there (it’s probably what we’ll do at this house). The dark wood shows everything, but with lighter dirt gets embedded into the grain of the wood and it can look bad too.

    • Lori-Anne Henry says:

      I have a porcelain tile in my kitchen that I just love!! It has dark gray grout. This tile handles abuse and dirt like a champ. only slops of liquids or clumps of mud or light colored things show up. I have had this tile for 1 year and we installed it ourselves 100%. We used a hopscotch pattern that is forgiving on long straight lines, that a long hallway out to our garage would highlight. This tile is better than real slate because it is more uniform in thickness and texture but still has the beauty and variation of slate.( which is what hides the dirt!)
      Care is very easy! I mop about once a week or less. I live in mud country/ snow country of Upstate NY :) with 2 large dogs, 2 boys and a husband, who seem to have an aversion to taking off their shoes, when they are “just getting something”.

  12. I love your hardwoods! And I would never look at them and think they were 10 years old! That baffled me! The nice thing about wood floors is that the dings that will happen add character. People pay big bucks for that distressed look! I love dark, more so than light stained wood, but since our house has original wood flooring that was never stained, it seems to hide way more. I am always shocked at what I am weeping up at the end of each day that I just didn’t see. I am convinced it’s the natural color, because you just don’t see the mess. We actually had a guy out when we bought the house and he couldn’t believe that the wood floors were original (60 years old!!!), and never refinished. I’m guessing the previous owners (the only people to ever live here before us) just hovered over the floors..well, that’s my theory. But your floors look amazing! The dings will happen, whatever….enjoy that gorgeous house you designed! Love love love those floors!

  13. We have unstained oak. I can say that although they are the wrong color for our cabinets which are also light, the natural variation in the oak really hides dirt. We stained the stairs and upstairs and although I like them as well (better?) they show dirt and Dust much more. Ours are in pretty bad shape after 15 years (they’ve been refinished once? Twice?) in places due to dog toe nails. I’d still do them again. Easier on legs than tile and much less susceptible to decor style changes.

  14. We have oak hardwood floors through out our house and tile in the bathrooms. When we moved in there was just the dark stained oak floors in the living room and dining room, we installed the oak in the master bedroom and kitchen and I think it’s Bolivian rosewood in the other bedrooms. Then we sanded down the dark stained oak and just clear coated it all. Ours is a matte finish because I didn’t want to see every single scratch from 4 little boys driving their match box cars over it! :) You still see every dog hair, every foot print and the kitchen floor only looks clean for about 20 minutes after it’s been cleaned. At least it’s held up to the dog nails but the fake wood flooring down in the basement has not. For that we are considering the tile that looks like hardwood w/heated flooring or carpet. I dislike carpet since we all have bad allergies. I’d rather do tile & an area rug.

  15. Thanks for the review! I want to get rid of the carpet in our dining and living rooms ( they flow together). I was considering dark but just might choose a lighter color per your comments. I have tile in my kitchen. We went with a darker grout but yeah, they get dirty. Our farm house is all tile and they used a mid tone grout and it is awful in the kitchen. I’m not sure they sealed it. I need to clean it then seal it myself but I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the prospect. Other than that, I do like the tile.

  16. We went with pre-finished, antiqued, matte, dark wood floors in our upstairs. I am totally with you on the crazy amount of everything they show — especially when we’re still doing construction. I vacuum once a day, and spot vac often throughout the day. It feels like a lot of upkeep – especially since we’d lived for the last 2 years with sub-flooring. :) I do love the dark color and there wasn’t another choice in my mind for this house, but hopefully it is the only high-maintenance thing i end up with or i will be chained to the vacuum! Thanks for your honest reviews!

    • Thank YOU for your honest review. You are a much better house keeper than I am. I dirt drives me crazy but sometimes I just think, “oh well” instead of grab my broom. Good for you!

  17. I lol’d when I read that you chose Jacobean. I wanted to so bad, but I went with the Walnut. I was even thinking about mixing Jacobean and another at one point (espresso?) but everyone I knew with very dark floors complained about the dust showing. Our entire first floor is hardwood.

    The water is the only think I can’t stand about the hardwood. Apparently our dishwasher leaked and ran under our cabinets and buckled the wood right in front of our sliders (I was thrilled). But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love the look! (PS I have white cabinets too. LOVE THEM!!!)

    PPS I absolutely love the look of finishing them yourself vs a pre made wood floor (with the grooves I between each slat). I will never go back. Can’t wait to do the upstairs!

  18. Hardwood. My main floor of my tiny house is a small open concept multifunction lr/dr/kitchen/foyer. I went with hardwood throughout for a unified look.

    At first I was semi terrified about moisture spills in the kitchen, but it’s been a complete non-issue. I once spilled an an ENTIRE pitcher of water. I soaked up what I could asap, but some seeped through the seams. I plugged in a fan, cranked the AC, crossed my fingers, and went to bed. The next morning I had some cupping at the seams, but it flattened back out to normal within a week.

    Moral of the story – don’t be afraid of using hardwood in the kitchen.

  19. Michelle Jensen says:

    How wide are your oak boards? Didn’t see this detail in either of your floor posts, but maybe I missed it. Have you had any issues with cupping? Did you install a humidifier on your furnace? I’m also in Utah, so looking for real-world experience with our climate.

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